A goal from Frederick Graham in the 86? minute was enough to separate the two sides after Pece Apolevski missed a penalty in the 8? minute for Rockdale. For Bankstown it was their first win on home soil for the season.
It was a first-half of few chances and even less highlights, but early on it did not look like this was going to be the case. Within the opening 10? minutes Bankstown had picked up a yellow card and Rockdale was awarded a penalty in different incidents.
First Lenox Tweneboa was booked for a poor challenge and then Giorgio Speranza went on a mazy run on the left which ended with the referee awarding the Suns a penalty. Speranza?s composure had the Bankstown defence looking as if they were scared off making a tackle following the earlier yellow card to Tweneboa. Speranza stepped inside two players and hit the byline. He looked to cross the ball into James Monie in the centre but instead the ball came off the arm of Bilal Al Najjarine. The resultant penalty was not hit powerfully by Pece Apolevski but it was on target, only for Zlatko Joseski to go low to his right and deflect the ball away, thus denying Rockdale the perfect start.
Unfortunately, the next 35? minutes did not live up to what was promised in the first 10?. Opportunities were half-chances at best with the five men at the back of both teams enough to combat the attacking men of their opponents.
In the 13? minute David Gardiner hooked the ball back into the area after a corner was poorly cleared, but no Bankstown attacker could get to the ball.
Gardiner was having an excellent game until injury cruelly took him from the match just on 40? minutes.
Then Dominic Hudap tried to get the game by the throat with some great passes through the middle of the park. However, the best that came of them was a cross from Shay Spitz but James Monie?s header of the ball went straight to Joseski.
The defence continued to be strong for Rockdale, especially from Josh Lawson and the experienced Mirko Jurilj with the only real threat to their composure coming when Aman Hadid, Frederick Graham and Hussein Salameh worked together to pressure the Suns in the 23? minute.
The resultant corner saw Ben McNamara spill the ball as he came for it and Hadid tried to bring the ball down and shoot only for his shot to be blocked by the wall that was the defence. Even when it was pierced, a few seconds later by Sean Mitchell, the ball ended up straight in the midriff of McNamara.
On the half hour Graham and Hadid combined well but Hadid?s last touch was just too strong and McNamara got down to the ball and denied any chance for Bankstown to have a shot.
On 36? minutes, Spitz had two goes at crossing from the left, the first headed away by the defence before Monie could get to it, and the second blocked at the origin by the Bankstown defence.
Bankstown then held much of the possession before the close of the half but right on half-time Adem Kir stepped past his marker and shot from long-range, the ball going over the top but closer than most of what happened in the opening stanza, excluding the penalty attempt.
Whatever was said at half-time managed to fire both teams up early in the second, with the home side especially keen to start.
From the kick off Bankstown regained the ball and Hadid demonstrated all his guile and skill to float past his markers and fire a shot in from long-range that curled, but not enough, and just stayed the wrong side of the post.
Graham and Mitchell linked but the cross from the left by Tweneboa was poor. Then Rockdale hit back, strongly. Askin Oygur, also playing well from the back, played a great ball to Spitz on the left and he put in a cross to Monie at the far post, where he was unmarked, but Monie was just unable to reach it.
In the 51? minute Spitz, Adem Kir and James Monie combined but Spitz was unable to get the ball to Apolevski waiting in the centre of the attacking area. Apolevski then played a great ball to Spitz who went on a good run but his ball to Speranza was wasted when his Rockdale teammate was unable to get his shot below the crossbar, albeit only just once more.
If the penalty miss had changed the game then once more things turned when in the 65? minute Apolevski received a straight red card for a challenge on Peter Peralta.
For Bankstown, however, the chance seemed absent from the day, as evidenced by an effective Tweneboa cross seeing Omar Saadi volleying it well and truly over the crossbar. Rockdale did not give up and substitute Jason Naidovski was particularly a threat by closing down Bankstown at the back.
The possession was not being converted by either team, though. A Peter Peralta ball floated into the area towards the goal and for a moment threatened to float in but McNamara got up tall to stop the half chance. Then a brilliant ball from Lebanese star Al Najjarine from the back to Graham almost paid off but eventually the ball through to Salameh was intercepted out.
For Al Najjarine it capped a day where he was strong at the back but also played some great passes out of trouble for Bankstown ? Al Najjarine signed last week from Lebanese side Najmeh.
Tweneboa then had a strong shot blocked well out from the goal by the Rockdale defence. Rockdale went up the other end and in the 82? minute as a header from Josh Lawson was denied by Joseski before a follow up shot from Rockdale was blocked by traffic, as was another follow up shot from Askin Oygur.
Sean Mitchell was still trying to engineer something for the home side as well, working well with Graham but the Bankstown side just could not come up with an answer to the Rockdale defence, or so it seemed.
It looked like a 0-0 draw until the 86? minute when something came from nothing, as it so often does in football. Substitute Suad Ameti had been played into attack by Salameh but looked to be going nowhere. He was well marshalled away from goal and the ball looked like going out when he somehow kept the ball in, slid it past Josh Lawson and played the ball past McNamara and into the goal mouth where three Bankstown players were waiting. Frederick Graham, who had ridden the wave of negative comments emanating from some sections of the crowd all game, was there waiting to do what any striker is paid to do, put the ball in the back of the net, and the critics were silenced.
Still Rockdale tried to clamber an equaliser but in the end time was their greatest enemy and so this most historic of clashes went the way of Bankstown City on this occasion.
For Rockdale coach Lee Sterrey it was a story of the lost opportunity:
?The penalty changed the game. If we had scored it would have forced them to come out and play differently, instead they could play the way they are used to. It is disappointing as we did not deserve to lose the game, they never had a kick on goal all game until one incident at the byline cost us the match.
?It is those little things we must be careful of for the whole game, not just most of it.?
For Bankstown coach Blagoja Kuleski it was a great day as he saw his side win at home for the first time this season:
?If somebody is happy today it is me. We never gave up. So often we lose because of the little things but today the little things went our way.
?Rockdale gave us a tough game but we happened to take our chance tonight and thus are pleased to pick up the whole three points.?
In the Grade-20 match, Rockdale City Suns secured a 2-0 victory over Bankstown City.
Bankstown City Lions 1 (Graham 86?)
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sunday 19th June, 2011
Jensen Park, Sefton
Referee: Andrew Best
Assistant Referees: Sam Grasso and Bachan Allam
Fourth Official: Alex Long
Bankstown City FC: 1.Zlatko Joseski; 4.Blaz Dejanovic, 5.David Gardiner (2.Omar Saadi 39?), 8.Peter Peralta, 15.Steven Bozinovski, 20.Frederick Graham (19.Steve Krteski 89?), 21.Aman Hadid (30.Suad Ameti 78?), 9. Bilal Al Najjarine, 18.Lenox Tweneboa, 10.Hussein Salameh, 7.Sean Mitchell
Substitutes Not Used: 14.Nicholas Ristevski, Gk.Antonio Anic
Yellow Cards: Lenox Tweneboa 7?, Steven Bozinovski 7?, Frederick Graham 17?, Zlatko Joseski 73?
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Ben McNamara; 13.Giorgio Speranza, 2.Paul Dee (9.Jason Naidovski 61?), 21.Mirko Jurilj, 26.Josh Lawson, 23.Askin Oygur, 7.Pece Apolevski, 11.Adem Kir, 8.Dominic Hudap, 3.Shay Spitz (19.Marino Musumeci 81?), 18.James Monie (17.Sash Tirovski 72?)
Substitutes Not Used: 14.Itsuki Hasegawa, 22.Dion Shaw
Yellow Cards: Jason Naidovski 73?
Red Cards: Pece Apolevski 64?
-By Stuart Jones